Living through a tragedy can often force us to put things in perspective. It can help clarify what is most important to us, and yet, it is not easy to find sustaining comfort when we are surrounded by desolation and loss. It is not easy to find the strength to face another day when each morning brings with it a reminder of unimaginable distress.
Regardless of how fortunate one might feel to be alive in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, it is absolutely natural to fluctuate between a sense of despair regarding the tragedy and a sense of hope for what tomorrow may bring. Yet, in order to pull through it all – in order to survive – hope must, indeed, prevail.
In many ways, the shape and color of our world is determined by how we respond to that which life throws our way. The more victimized we may feel by life’s unpredictable challenges, the more victimized we become, and quite often this can spiral into a depression which is difficult to escape. Conversely, hope breeds hope and faith breeds faith.
After the catastrophic flooding brought by Hurricane Harvey, it is difficult not to slide into a sense of despair. Hope, especially for those whose lives have been turned upside down, can often seem like a distant dream.
In the Torah, we read a story of hope which could have been written last week. It is the story of Noah who, like us, lives to tell the tale of a flood which consumes the world with water. For Noah and his family, hope seems distant. With hope in his heart, he builds an ark, but there were no guarantees.
How many of us, like Noah, were consumed by fear and angst regarding powerful forces beyond us? How many of us used every resource that we had to stay the tides of destruction?
Noah’s story is our story, and in the end, hope indeed, prevails with the covenant of the rainbow. And what is a rainbow? It is a mysterious blend of sunlight and raindrops that we can see, but cannot touch. It includes every color in the spectrum of light. The rainbow is a reminder of the inclusive nature of God’s promise. As it blends the opposing forces of sun and rain, it creates a beautiful arch of individual bands of color as if to remind the entire world of our interconnectedness. Human beings, animals, plants and all that exists are all part of the world of creation. We all exist together in a universe we do not completely understand, and the that hope our survival exists thrives when we work in unison.
Noah’s flood and the floods from Hurricane Harvey may have put humanity in its place, but the covenant of the rainbow is there to remind us that hope and light will always follow the darkness of destruction. Our hope, like the radiant bands of the rainbow, is realized when we work together.
From the inception of our faith, the idea that we are all responsible for one another has remained central to who we are and what we stand for as a people. Our hope is embodied in this communal mindset. As Jews, we know we must take care of each other, and we recognize that we have a responsibility to take care of the world around us as well.
As we continue to put our lives and our city back together, we need to commit ourselves to the covenant of the rainbow. We need to band together as one resilient community and cast light and color into our darkened world.